Amit Shah says TDP’s decision to quit ‘unilateral’; Naidu hits back

Amit Shah says TDP’s decision to quit ‘unilateral’; Naidu hits back
Photo: ANI

Amaravati: BJP President Amit Shah unleashed a belligerent attack on Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, saying his “unilateral” decision to quit the NDA was for political considerations and not development, triggering a bitter war of words between the two on Saturday.

Naidu hit back at Shah’s open letter to him, saying it was “full of false information” that hurt the sentiments of the Telugu people.

The BJP chief’s March 23-dated letter formalised the split between the two allies, a week after the TDP pulled out of the NDA over the demands for special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

Shah described as “untrue and baseless” the TDP chief’s allegations that the BJP was not sensitive to the aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

He said the central government had released Rs 1,050 crore in the first three years coming to power as special development assistance for seven backward districts of the state.

“Surprisingly, the state has spent only 12 per cent of this amount and 88 per cent remains unutilized.”

Shah termed as “nothing but a figment of your imagination” the Chief Minister’s claims that the Central government had asked the amount be taken back because it was released without PMO’s sanction.

He accused the Naidu government of “some serious lapses…which can’t be ignored”.

He said he had learned that the Centre had not received appropriate details of developmental fund utilization.

The BJP chief said utilisation certificates were received only for 12 per cent of the grant released for backward districts in 2016-17 and for only eight per cent for Rs 1,000 crore released for the capital region. This, he said, reflected “governance deficit”.

Shah said the BJP was committed to the cause of development of Andhra Pradesh but Naidu allowed the mandate earned by the two parties “be squandered for political reasons”.

“Unfortunately, partisan politics has overtaken leading to your party leaving the NDAÂ… The decision will be construed as being guided wholly and solely by political considerations instead of developmental concerns.”

Naidu replied to Shah’s letter in the state Assembly, alleging that the BJP chief misrepresented the facts.

“Amit Shah’s letter is full of false information, which shows their attitude. Even now, the Centre is providing special benefits to north eastern states. Had Andhra Pradesh been given the same hand-holding, many industries would have come to the state,” said Naidu.

Defending his party’s decision to quit the BJP-led NDA, Naidu said it was done to respect the feelings of the people, who were feeling betrayed by the Central government.

He said the NDA did not discharge its responsibility towards its ally and the state.

Naidu took strong exception to the BJP President attributing ulterior motives to him. “You may have that habit, I don’t have,” he said, reacting to Shah’s remark that he was looking to divert the funds received from the Central government.

Slamming Shah for using some strong words in the letter, Naidu said it reflected the functioning of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Disputing Shah’s claim that the Central government extended all help to the state, he dared him to come out with facts and respond to the points raised by him in his letter earlier.

The TDP chief made a point by point rebuttal to Shah’s letter to assert that the Central government failed to come to state’s rescue.

Naidu also told the Assembly that even the funds which the Central government had to give to the state towards the share in the taxes were being shown under the assistance extended to the state during last four years.

Earlier, Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, who is also a cabinet minister, denied Shah’s allegation that the state did not submit utilisation certificates for the funds released by the Centre.